Need a premium cut-rifled barrel? Be prepared to wait six months or more. However, if you were a member of the NorCal Practical Precision Rifle Club (NCPPRC) you’d be sitting pretty right now. After receiving a boatload of new Bartleins (31 by our count), NPPRC’s Vu Pham announced on Facebook: “Our first batch of Bartlein Barrels has arrived!! This is less than 1/3 of our 2013 Club order!”
That’s an impressive supply of precious metal to be sure. Are those Bartleins worth their weight in gold? Not quite, but Vu and crew definitely have reason to celebrate. We hope all the folks at NCPPRC shoot lots of good scores with all those pretty new tubes. Yes, you could say we have “barrel envy” now.
If you haven’t visited the Norma website recently, you should click over to www.norma.cc/en/ (the ‘en’ is for English version). There you will find Norma’s “Ammo Academy”, a technical resource that provides information on: Ballistics, Powder Storage, Barrel Wear, and Bullet Expansion. In addition, the Ammo Academy now links to Norma’s Reloading Data Center, where you’ll find loads for nearly 70 cartridge types including: .223 Rem, .22-250, 6mmBR Norma, 6XC, 260 Rem, 6.5-284, 6.5×55, 7mm-08, .270 Win, .284 Win, .308 Win, .30-06, 300 Win Mag, .338 Lapua Mag and dozens more.
The Ammo Academy’s Ballistics section contains some fascinating technical facts:
After the trigger is pulled, it takes around 0.005 seconds before the firing pin reaches the primer.
From the firing of the primer it takes 0.0015-0.002 seconds until the bullet exits the muzzle.
When the bullet leaves the muzzle, the hot gases surround and overtake the bullet, continuing the acceleration for a few centimeters.
Because the barrel is always angled slightly upwards, the bullet’s flight starts about 3-5 cm below the line of sight.
Norma also offers some good advice about Powder and Cartridge Storage:
To maintain the product quality for as long as possible, you have to keep the powder in a suitable place under suitable conditions. Where possible, store the powder at a constant temperature, ideally between 12 and 15°C (54°F to 59°F), and a relative humidity of 40–50%. If the air is too dry, it will dry out the powder, which will cause the pressure to be higher, thus affecting performance. Also make sure that you close the powder container properly afterwards. Cartridges should be stored under the same ambient conditions to maintain their quality.
The 6mm Dasher is based on the 6mm BR cartridge with the shoulder blown forward about 0.100″ and “improved” to 40°. Case capacity is raised to about 41.0 grains. This allows the Dasher to drive 105-108gr bullets comfortably at 2970-3000 fps without over-stressing the brass. A popular load used by many successful Dasher shooters is 32.5 to 33.0 grains of Reloder 15, CCI 450 primers, with 105gr Berger VLDs, .010″ in the lands, or Berger 105gr Hybrids .015-.020″ off the lands (jumping). At the upper end this is a “warm load” and should only be used with fire-formed brass. Norma 203B is very, very similar to Reloder 15, and may be more readily available in the near future. As with any load, start 10% low and work up.
You may also have good luck with Hodgon Varget powder. Forum Member Rodney Wagner recently shot a spectacular IBS-record-setting 0.349″ five-shot group at 600 yards. Rodney was loading 32.5 Grains of Varget with CCI 450 primers and Berger 108gr BTs seated about .020″ off the lands (jumping). In preparation for fire-forming his Dasher cases, Rodney used a .257 expander to create a false shoulder on his case necks. This helps stabilizes the case with a good “crush fit” when fire-forming, but other methods of forming Dasher cases (including hydro-forming) can work well also.
Robert Hoppe, one of the top 600-yard shooters in the country, was the 2009 NBRSA 600-yard champion. In 2007, shooting a 6 Dasher, Robert nailed a 0.5823″, 5-shot group. At the time it was the smallest group ever shot in 600-yard registered benchrest competition. In 2008, John Lewis shot even smaller with an IBS Heavy Gun, but Robert’s 0.5823″ still remains the NBRSA 600-yard record, and we believe it is the second smallest group ever shot at 600 yards (in registered BR competition) by a 17-lb class rifle. Robert has been very successful in the 600-yard game, and is one of the best 600-yard shooters in the West. He knows how to wring the best accuracy out of the 6mm Dasher cartridge. Here Robert offers some tips on load development and tuning for the 6mm Dasher.
Another long-range benchrest record was set recently — this time at the Williamsport Range in Pennsylvania. On Saturday, May 18, 2013, Paul Martinez shot a fantastic 3.505″ 10-shot group at 1000 yards. It was nicely centered for a 99-6X score as well. Paul’s 3.505″ group should be a new 10-shot record for the 17-lb Light Gun Class under Williamsport Rules. The previous best was a 3.746″ (99-1X) group shot by Scott Weber at Williamsport last summer. Congrats to Paul for some great shooting!
Paul’s 17-lb Light Gun was chambered as a .300 WSM and Paul was loading heavy-weight .30-caliber Berger bullets. Paul’s rifle was smithed by Eric Springman of Springman Rifles in Allenwood, PA. Paul’s record-setting rifle featured a Borden action, Krieger barrel, McMillan MBR Tooley stock, and Nightforce Benchrest model scope (we don’t know if this was the old BR scope or the new-for-2013 version). Eric Springman notes: “This was not a fluke — Paul has shot several small groups with this gun and has shot under 4″ at 1000 yards before.”
Under Williamsport Rules, the Light Gun Class shoots 10-shot groups at 1000 yards. Under IBS and NBRSA Rules, Light Guns shoot 5-shot groups at 1000 yards, so there is no comparable IBS or NBRSA 10-shot record for the 17-lb class. However, IBS and NBRSA Heavy Guns DO shoot 10-shot groups at 1000 yards. The current IBS Heavy Gun 10-shot record is 3.044″, shot by Joel Pendergraft in 2009. The NBRSA 10-Shot Heavy Gun record is 4.322″ by Dave Tooley, posted in 2006. Looking at those numbers, Paul Martinez’s 3.505″ beats the existing NBRSA HG record by 0.817″ and Paul’s group is just 0.461″ off the IBS HG record. Any way you look at it, that is great shooting with a 17-lb rifle.
The 2013 35th Annual NRA Bianchi Cup National Championship kicks off today, May 22nd in Columbia, Missouri, and runs through May 25th. This prestigious event draws shooters from all over the world. Along with the USA, competitors have come from Australia, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Russia, and Switzerland.
Categories include: Open Division, Metallic Sights, Service Pistol, and Revolver. In addition there be awards for the top shooters in specific classes: Law enforcement, Women, Junior, International, Newcomer, Senior, Grand Senior. One of the favorites in the Women’s Division this year is Jessie Duff, shown competing with one of her Bianchi Cup custom rigs. Jessie’s pistol sports special brackets to help steady the gun during barricade shots.
Bianchi Cup — Classic Four-Stage Course of Fire
The MidwayUSA/NRA Bianchi Cup is a combination of Speed and Accuracy. Competitors shoot from both standing and prone positions and are also required to shoot with both strong and weak hands at various stages. Stages may combine stationary and moving targets. As conceived by former police officer and holster-maker John Bianchi, the Bianchi Cup originated in 1979 as a Law Enforcement Training match. The Course of Fire consists of four separate matches:
The Practical Event: From the appropriate shooting line, the shooter fires at distances from 10 yards to 50 yards under varying time limits.
The Barricade Event: From within shooting boxes and behind barricades, a shooter fires at targets on either side of the barricade at different distances and under varying time limits.
The Falling Plate Event: From the appropriate shooting line, the shooter fires at 8 inch round steel plates arranged in banks of six at distances from 10 to 25 yards under varying time limits.
The Moving Target Event: From within shooting boxes at distances ranging from 10 to 25 yards, the shooter fires at a target moving from left to right with the target being exposed for only 6 seconds.
To make Cabela’s Memorial Day Sale even more attractive, Cabelas.com is also offering $5.00 Flat-Rate Shipping if your order totals $99.00 or more (ammo excluded). To qualify, use Promo CODE 53FLAT during check-out. This offer is valid through May 27th. Additional shipping charges for large or heavy items still apply.
Fine Print: Offer does not apply to firearms. Good on Standard Express shipping to U.S. Deliverable Addresses ONLY. Not valid with any other offer. Offer cannot be used on prior purchases. Offer is valid for purchases made at Cabelas.com or catalog call center.
Our IT guy, Jay (aka JayChris in the Forum), was having some issues with his .260 AI. A load with known accuracy had suddenly and mysteriously stopped shooting well. Jay couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. Then he remembered he had cleaned his brass using a powerful ultrasonic machine.
He inspected his brass carefully and saw that the ultrasonically-cleaned necks were so “squeaky clean” that he was actually scratching the jackets on his bullets when seating them. As well, Jay noticed that it took more force to seat the bullets and the seating force became less uniform case to case. Jay solved the problem by applying NECO Moly dry-lube inside the necks of his brass before seating the bullets.
The Perils of Ultrasonic Brass Cleaning by JayChris
I rotate my brass so that I can keep track of each firing, so I keep a “clean/ready to load” bin and a “fired” bin. I have 400 pieces of .260 AI brass. So, all of it was on its first firing (after doing a Cream of Wheat fire-forming) until I hit the 400-round mark. To my surprise, things went south at the 500-round mark. The first time I noticed it (according to my range log) was at a match last year, when I dropped several points and had some vertical stringing issues. After that match, I had 400 rounds through the barrel and all of my brass had a single firing on it. So, it was time to clean.
I have used an ultrasonic cleaner for a while now. I recently got a more powerful Ultrasonic cleaner, although I don’t know if that makes a difference. My brass comes out dry and squeaky. Emphasis on the “squeaky”.
I found that my new US machine may have been getting the necks TOO clean. After ultrasonically cleaning my brass, I had noticed that it required a little more force to seat the bullets, but I didn’t really think too much about it. But then, after going over my ordeal with a shooting buddy and going over my process in minutiae, we had an “AH HA” moment when it came to cleaning (he uses good ol’ vibratory cleaning).
So, I used some moly dry-lube to pre-lube the case necks and took some rounds out to test at 200 yards. I used my last known good load and sure enough, the vertical flyers disappeared! I shot two, 10-rounds groups with .335 and .353 MOA vertical dispersion, which is consistent with the results I was originally getting.
Other folks have suggested necks may get “too clean” after ultrasonic cleaning. It was pretty sobering to actually witness, first hand, what can happen when brass is “too clean”. I had read some discussions of issues with neck friction/bullet seating after ultrasonic cleaning, but, frankly, I dismissed the idea. Now I understand. The “too clean” effect doesn’t seem to affect my Dasher at all (perhaps because Dasher necks are very short), but on the bigger .260 AI, it definitely does.
Close-Up Photos of Case-Necks
Here are photos Jay took with a microscope. You can see the difference between tumbled brass and ultrasonically-cleaned brass. Jay says: “Here, in sequence, are the Ultrasound-squeaky-clean case neck, a case neck after treatment with NECO moly dry-lube (you can see the particles that will help coat the neck during seating), and, finally, the neck from a case cleaned with corncob media in a vibratory tumbler. You can clearly see how much smoother the inside of the tumbled neck is. Yes, it’s dirty, but it’s also very, very smooth.
Close-Up of Scratched Bullet
Here is a close-up of a bullet that was seated in an ultrasonically-cleaned (“squeaky clean”) neck, with no lubrication. You can clearly see the damage done to the jacket — in fact, in a couple spots you can see the lead core through the scratches! Jay also observed that quite a bit more seating force was required to seat the bullet in a “squeaky clean” neck.
NOTE: The bullet jacket is naked — NOT coated in any way. It looks a little dark because of the shadow from the microscope lens, and the high contrast.
We often get questions about the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge — folks ask where they can find good resources for this cartridge, which is popular with Across-The-Course, High Power, and tactical shooters. We did some searching and found that the August 2011 digital edition of Shooting Sports USA has a good article for all fans of the 6.5 Creemoor.
Development of the 6.5 Creedmoor Cartridge
In the August 2011 Edition of Shooting Sports USA you’ll find a lengthy feature on the 6.5 Creedmoor cartridge. This story covers the origin of the cartridge and its performance both as a match cartridge and as a hunting round. Hornady Chief Ballistician Dave Emary explained: “the original intent of the cartridge was as an across-the-course match cartridge. We envisioned it as an off-the-shelf round that would produced the accuracy and ballistics to compete in all match disciplines right out of the box. At the same time we realized that the same characteristics would make an exceptional hunting cartridge with the right bullets.”
6.5 Creedmoor Brass No Longer Washed After Annealing
Here’s an interesting update on Hornady 6.5 Creedmoor brass and loaded ammo. In a move to improve case quality and neck uniformity, Hornady recently changed the 6.5 Creedmoor production process, eliminating the case-washing step after annealing. So now you will see annealing coloration on 6.5 Creedmoor brass, just like on Lapua brass. Dennis DeMille of Creedmoor Sports wanted to improve the consistency/uniformity of 6.5 Creedmoor case-necks. At Dennis’ suggestion, Hornady conducted tests which showed that the “standard industry practice” of washing brass could potentially alter the necks in undesirable ways. Bottom line, unwashed annealed brass was determined to have an accuracy edge over washed brass. Looking at these results, Hornady decided to forgo the post-anneal washing process. As a result, the latest 6.5 Creedmoor brass now displays the distinctive coloration left by neck/shoulder annealing. Learn something new every day, eh?
From now on, California will require all new-model semi-automatic handguns to be manufactured with microstamping technology (aka “ballistic imprinting”). This requirement went into effect on May 17th, when the California Attorney General’s office declared that technical and patent barriers to the implementation of microstamping had been removed.
To make a firearm compliant, firearms manufacturers must now engrave a gun’s make, model, and serial number on two distinct parts of each gun, including the firing pin, so that, in theory, this data is imprinted on the cartridge casing when the pistol is fired. If the microstamp on the end of the firing pin wears out, then the gun is considered “unsafe” under California law, and the owner may not sell or transfer the gun.
California’s microstamping law was enacted way back in 2007. However, by its terms, the law did not go into effect until the technology was mature and patent rights were resolved. With the State government claiming that microstamping is now practical, new gun models must have microstamping capability in order to be approved for civilian sale in California. This will, eventually serve as a de facto ban on new-model semi auto handguns in California. Brandon Combs, Executive Director of the Calguns Foundation, explains: “Manufacturers are not going to create a special run of firearms with all of these very burdensome manufacturing technologies just so they can comply and produce firearms for one market.” At present, as far as we can determine, no major gun-maker currently offers a microstamping-capable, semi-auto handgun for sale in the United States — not a single one.
Current “California-Approved” Semi-Auto Pistols Can Still Be Sold — For a Time
The “activation” of California’s microstamping requirement does NOT mean that semi-auto handguns currently on the California “approved” list can no longer be sold. The current inventory of “approved” handguns are “grandfathered”, so they may be sold so long as the manufacturers continue to pay annual handgun roster registration fees to the State of California. However, any new-model semi-auto pistol — even one with a minor design change from a previous version — will be blocked from sale in California unless it has the microstamping feature. If a manufacturer stops producing a particular handgun, replacing it with a newer, upgraded version, that newer model cannot be sold in California unless it is microstamp-capable. (We should add that the microstamp requirement does not apply to handguns sold to law enforcement agencies.)
What we can expect is that, in time, as handgun manufacturers replace old models with new models (or make modifications to existing models), fewer and fewer new semi-auto pistols will be offered for sale in California. If, for example, Glock updates its Glock 17, the new model could not be sold in California unless Glock outfits it with microstamping capability.
NRA Plans Legal Challenge
NRA Attorney C.D. Michel says that microstamping is a flawed and impractical technology: “This is not going to help solve crimes. [Microstamping] is easily defeated… and can be used to lead police down false alleys.” Michel notes that criminals can easily defeat the microstamp by filing the tips of firing pins. Overall, Michel believes, microstamping will not reduce crime, but it will cut off the supply of handguns available to Californians. He stated the the NRA plans a legal challenge to the implementation of microstamping in California.
While there is virtually no “real world” evidence that microstamping has ever solved actual crimes, there are many important criticisms of the “ballistic imprinting” technology:
Stamped casing can only be traced to the last registered owner, not to the person who used the gun when the casings were stamped. In the case of a stolen gun, as is the case for most firearms used in crime, the stamped case would not lead to the criminal.
Criminals could collect discarded brass from a firing range and salt crime scenes with microstamped cases, thereby providing false evidence against innocent people and increasing the workload for investigators.
Microstamping is easily defeated. Inexpensive files will remove microstamping. Firing pins are normally replaceable and can be changed with simple tools or without tools. Firing a large number of rounds will wear down the microstamp.
Microstamping is an immature technology, and has not been subjected to sufficient independent testing. Transfer of microstamped marks to the cases is less reliable than proponents claim.
Ruger has created a series of videos showcasing Metallic Silhouette, IDPA, SCSA (Steel Challenge), and USPSA shooting events. Log on to Ruger’s Beginner’s Guide to Shooting Competitions webpage to see informative videos on each of these popular sports. Below you can find the Video on Metallic Silhouette and the Video on SCSA Steel Challenge pistol competition. Silhouette is a great family sport and the Steel Challenge is the ultimate pistol speed-shooting event.
INTRO to RIMFIRE RIFLE METALLIC SILHOUETTE Competition
INTRO to STEEL CHALLENGE Pistol Competition
Ruger also offers many other cool videos, both on its Video Webpage and on Ruger’s YouTube Channel. On YouTube, you’ll find a great four-part Tactical Carbine video series, hosted by Dave Spaulding, winner of the 2010 Trainer of the Year award by Law Officer Magazine. Spaulding also hosts a set of Ruger videos on defensive handgun use. For novice handgunners, Ruger offers Beginner Shooting Tips with video segments covering each of these topics:
Firearm Safety Rules
Body Position Stance
Gripping the Handgun
Loading and Unloading
Shooting to Slidelock
Effects Of Cartridge Over All Length (COAL) And Cartridge Base To Ogive (CBTO) – Part 1 by Bryan Litz forBerger Bullets.
Many shooters are not aware of the dramatic effects that bullet seating depth can have on the pressure and velocity generated by a rifle cartridge. Cartridge Overall Length (COAL) is also a variable that can be used to fine-tune accuracy. It’s also an important consideration for rifles that need to feed rounds through a magazine. In this article, we’ll explore the various effects of COAL, and what choices a shooter can make to maximize the effectiveness of their hand loads.
Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (SAAMI)
Most loading manuals (including the Berger Manual), present loading data according to SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute) standards. SAAMI provides max pressure, COAL and many other specifications for commercial cartridges so that rifle makers, ammo makers, and hand loaders can standardize their products so they all work together. As we’ll see later in this article, these SAAMI standards are in many cases outdated and can dramatically restrict the performance potential of a cartridge.
Bullet seating depth is an important variable in the accuracy equation. In many cases, the SAAMI specified COAL is shorter than what a hand loader wants to load their rounds to for accuracy purposes. In the case where a hand loader seats the bullets longer than SAAMI specified COAL, there are some internal ballistic effects that take place which are important to understand.
Effects of Seating Depth / COAL on Pressure and Velocity
The primary effect of loading a cartridge long is that it leaves more internal volume inside the cartridge. This extra internal volume has a well known effect; for a given powder charge, there will be less pressure and less velocity produced because of the extra empty space. Another way to look at this is you have to use more powder to achieve the same pressure and velocity when the bullet is seated out long. In fact, the extra powder you can add to a cartridge with the bullet seated long will allow you to achieve greater velocity at the same pressure than a cartridge with a bullet seated short.
Figure 1. When the bullet is seated farther out of the case, there is more volume available for powder. This enables the cartridge to generate higher muzzle velocity with the same pressure.
When you think about it, it makes good sense. After all, when you seat the bullet out longer and leave more internal case volume for powder, you’re effectively making the cartridge into a bigger cartridge by increasing the size of the combustion chamber. Figure 1 illustrates the extra volume that’s available for powder when the bullet is seated out long.
Before concluding that it’s a good idea to start seating your bullets longer than SAAMI spec length, there are a few things to consider.
Geometry of a Chamber Throat
The chamber in a rifle will have a certain throat length which will dictate how long a bullet can be loaded. The throat is the forward portion of the chamber that has no rifling. The portion of the bullet’s bearing surface that projects out of the case occupies the throat (see Figure 2).
The length of the throat determines how much of the bullet can stick out of the case. When a cartridge is chambered and the bullet encounters the beginning of the rifling, known as the lands, it’s met with hard resistance. This COAL marks the maximum length that a bullet can be seated. When a bullet is seated out to contact the lands, its initial forward motion during ignition is immediately resisted by an engraving force.
Seating a bullet against the lands causes pressures to be elevated noticeably higher than if the bullet were seated just a few thousandths of an inch off the lands.
A very common practice in precision reloading is to establish the COAL for a bullet that’s seated to touch the lands. This is a reference length that the hand loader works from when searching for the optimal seating depth for precision. Many times, the best seating depth is with the bullet touching or very near the lands. However, in some rifles, the best seating depth might be 0.100″ or more off the lands. This is simply a variable the hand loader uses to tune the precision of a rifle.
Many readers will be driving across multiple states this summer to attend competitions. Other shooters will be heading out of state for a game hunt or prairie dog safari. For $13.95 you can purchase a state-by-state Traveler’s Guide to firearms laws. This book can help ensure you comply with all state laws during your trip. Highways Magazine states: “If you carry a weapon in your rig, you need this book.” This 68-page guide covers all firearms types and all 50 states. It even has info for Canada and Mexico. The latest edition of the Traveler’s Guide, updated with 50 changes for 2013, is now shipping.
The Traveler’s Guide to the Firearm Laws of the Fifty States has sold more than 950,000 copies since it was first released in 1996. The book’s author, Attorney J. Scott Kappas, has written numerous magazine articles and has appeared on television, explaining the unexpected pitfalls that shooters may encounter when traveling with firearms. Along with being an attorney, Mr. Kappas serves as a director on the Board of the Kentucky Firearms Foundation, and Kappas is a Class III firearms dealer.
The Traveler’s Guide is especially useful for shooters traveling in RVs and motorhomes. The American Rifleman Magazine declared: “This book is a must-have for truck drivers, motor home enthusiasts, campers and other travelers…easy to read and understand, well-organized and concise….” One reader from Texas adds: “I used to think that my RV was the same as my home when it came to gun carry….the Traveler’s Guide set me straight. Now I know my motorhome is subject to the same laws as any vehicle when it comes to guns.”